The FAA prescribes through Federal Aviation Regulations the requirements which must be met before a person is certificated as a pilot. These requirements include the applicant's physical condition, aeronautical experience, knowledge, and skill.
The FAA designates selected physicians (Aviation Medical Examiners) to conduct initial and periodic physical examinations and issue medical certificates as evidence that the pilot meets the medical standards appropriate to the class of pilot certificate.
Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 61, prescribe the minimum aeronautical experience required for each grade of pilot certificate or rating. Flight time consisting of both dual instruction and solo flying are indicative of the pilot's training and experience. All flight time required for certificates or ratings must be recorded and attested to in the pilot's logbook or other reliable records as evidence that the flight training and experience have been acquired.
Regulations also prescribe the areas of aeronautical knowledge required for pilot certification. Written tests to assure that applicants meet the required aeronautical knowledge standards for certification must be passed. The practical application of that knowledge to typical flight situations is emphasized in the written tests.
Regulations also prescribe the pilot operations in which proficiency is required for various pilot certificates or ratings. (A pilot operation is a group of procedures and maneuvers involving skills and knowledge necessary to safely and efficiently function as a pilot.) During a certification flight check, an applicant must demonstrate a satisfactory level of skill in the required pilot operations as outlined in the FAA Flight Test Guides. The maneuvers and procedures used to demonstrate skill in the pilot operations are described in this handbook.
The ability of an applicant for an FAA private or commercial pilot certificate to perform the required pilot operations is based on the following:
1. Executing procedures and maneuvers
within the aircraft's performance capabilities and limitations, including
use of the aircraft's systems.
2. Executing emergency procedures and maneuvers appropriate to the aircraft.
3. Piloting the aircraft with smoothness and accuracy.
4. Exercising judgment.
5. Applying aeronautical knowledge.
6. Showing that the applicant is the master of the aircraft, with the successful outcome of a procedure or maneuver never seriously in doubt.
Pilot flight checks are administered by FAA inspectors or by FAA designated
pilot examiners in the aviation industry.
The FAA considers the qualifications and performance skills of the pilots to be vital to the safety of all flight operations. All modern advances in aircraft and aircraft equipment intended to improve efficiency and safe operation are futile if the pilot is unqualified or unable to use the equipment effectively. Consequently, the certification flight tests are designed to evaluate the pilot's abilities with regard to safe and efficient pilot performance. Because evaluation through flight tests is a mere sampling of pilot ability and is compressed into a short period of time, much reliance must be placed on the flight instructor to demand proper performance throughout the entire period of training.
Practical questions and problems in the FAA tests confine their coverage primarily to considerations which have a direct application to safety. The flight tests are designed to evaluate an applicant's ability to prepared for a flight, maneuver an aircraft safely, plan and execute cross-country flights, and use radio navigation and communications procedures as necessary. All this is important if the pilot is to fit into the modern national airspace system.
To safeguard the live and property of the flying public (as well as the nonflying public), regulatory control must be maintained over the operation of all aircraft. Without regulations for flying, confusion would prevail in the national airspace.
Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 91, contain the basic safety rules which govern flying in the United States. Every rule, every requirement, every obligation has only one main purpose - SAFETY. Factors attributable to many of the aircraft accidents can be traced to failure to adhere to certain rules of flight and good operating practices. In a democratic society, individuals must accept certain limitations for the general welfare of society. Limitations in the form of regulations and operating procedures are accepted in aviation to make flying safer for everybody and to permit expansion and development of aviation. Therefore, it is imperative that all pilots have a good working knowledge of FAR Part 1, Definitions and Abbreviations; Part 61, Certification: Pilots and Flight Instructors; and Part 91, General Operating and Flight rules, as well as their amendments as soon as they are published.
Throughout the nation the Federal Aviation Administration has approximately 85 General Aviation District Offices, often referred to as "GADOs." It is through these offices that "grass roots" contact is provided between the FAA and the aviation community. The General Aviation Inspectors in those offices are professionally trained, highly competent airmen, and are there to serve the aviation public. They are prepared to advise and assist in any way possible on aviation matters, particularly flight safety. The locations of these offices are convenient to most people and are usually found on or adjacent to an airport. The GADO inspectors make periodic visits to outlying cities within their districts for the purpose of administering written tests and flight tests, as well as conducting flight safety seminars for the aviation public.